Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hands Across the Water

“We need people who care, people who plan and people who do hard work to make things happen.”
Sister Mary Ann Barnhorst 
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur 
Ohio province

A few years ago, a very cool 6th grade student, Michael Van Dorselaer, was shocked to discover that kids all over the world are dying every day due to lack of clean drinking water. He also learned that a lot of children spend hours each day walking for miles in order to carry water back to their families.
This new knowledge bothered  Michael...he wanted to do something to help. 
He came up with an idea to do a walkathon that would mimic the daily trek that so many kids endure to bring water home. He approached his gym teacher and together they came up with a plan. The students would raise money for clean water by walking four miles, (the average distance from village to water source in the developing world) and they would carry gallons of their own water to see what it was like.
Pretty great idea, right?
Michael's plan took root and grew, not just into a whole school event, but also a global one. And I am extremely proud to have my gang at a school that recognizes and then takes the extra steps in supporting a most excellent idea when they see one. Especially when the person behind the plan is a 6th grader.

 Yesterday, the entire school, both students and faculty participated in a walk to raise money and awareness for the global water crises.
It was really a terrific event for all of the 1,000+ students...the youngest carried ounces of water on a short walk, and the oldest carried gallons of water for miles. Everyone was quite happy to participate. Based on my own personal experience with my own personal darlings, I expected some grumblings from at least a few of the students. But that didn't happen. Instead there were cheers, encouragement and a lot of laughter from the students who recognized and enjoyed that they were all working hard to reach out to families who needed their help.  
Last year the students raised enough money to provide clean water to 11 villages,  and this year they are hoping to expand on those eleven.

Summit students are continuing to collect donations for the safe water project until May 4th. If you happen to be approached by one of my dears or their buddies, please consider making a gift and also feel free to ask them what it was like to carry gallons of water for 4 miles, they will be happy to share their experience with you!
Henry was good natured about posing for a photo during his walk.
Who says a service project can't also be uber fun? 
You go, Miss Mary!
 I noticed that Jamie chose to walk the walk with the third grade ladies... he said that they laughed so hard sometimes, they couldn't walk straight. They do indeed sound like a very fun bunch.
 The youngest students carried their little waters up and down the school driveway. They were happy to have help from the high school kids to keep them on their not so complicated course.
Miss Rose with her buddies getting ready for their water walk.
 The middle school kids competed with the primary school gang in terms of giggling a ton and having a super fabulous time while walking for a great cause. Lilly marched surrounded by and cracking up with her girlfriends as they walked.   
 The gallons of water that the kids walked with was then donated to a local organization.... Mary was happy to load up the truck. 
Did I mention that the kids all had a blast? 
An end of walk salute from a middle schooler...doing good things and having a great time in the process.

For more information please visit..

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lucky 13 Years.

Thirteen years ago today Karl married me... totally and completely on purpose. I think I will always find that a total act of courage and strength.
In a heartbeat, he willingly and in fact, happily, went from being a fairly hipster young professional to a husband, stepfather and dog/cat/guinea pig owner overnight. 

He claims to be lucky, but I know it's not every man who would look at THIS photo and count THAT GUY as a lucky man.
But he does, and I won't argue that. We really are a family who were ALL unbelievably fortunate to have found each other in this big, brave world. 
Happy Anniversary KG!

('till the wheels fall off...)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Princess Belle goes to the Junior Prom.

 And so goes Mary and her friend and fellow actor, Nick off to the junior prom.
When Mary came down the steps, dressed up and ready for a night of prom, Rosie clasped hands to heart and exclaimed...
"Belle! You look just like Belle!"
 I agree, Rosie.
Mary does carry an uncanny resemblance to a Disney princess. 
Here are Mary and Nick being really really good sports with all of the pre- prom photos and posing with the little sibs. Please note that Jamie dressed up a bit. I think wanted to be ready to stand in just in case one of the fabulous teenage girls was stood up by her date. 
He was hoping for one of Mary's friends to say...
"I need a nice guy to be my new prom date.. are there any single guys here in a sports jacket? Who cares if you're nine, dude- get in the limo!"
Unfortunately for Jamie, that didn't happen.
And here are Mary and Nick looking extremely happy after they ditched the kids...
Enjoy the dance and be safe you two!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Giants Beware!

So yesterday I came across this very cool kids book at my neighborhood bookstore.
 (the awesome Joesph- Beth Booksellers) 
I thumbed through it, thought it looked like something my kids would really enjoy and so bought it for my graphic novel loving kids. 
(When it comes to cool books, I admit, I indulge) 
It was only later, that I noticed the name of the illustrator; Rafael Rosado... a friend from way back in my Bradley Hall days at Ohio State.
(What-wait! I know this guy!)
And the best part was that he was scheduled for a book signing at Jo-Beth the following evening.
So of course I took the gang back tonight so that they could meet Raf and have their books signed.
He even took the time to personalize each book with one of the characters from Giants Beware!
How 'bout we slay some giants!
It was great to see Raf again and meet his wonderful wife and daughters. My kids were thrilled with their personally signed copies of Giants Beware and were nose to page until Karl had to pry them out of their hands so that they would actually go to sleep tonight.

Lily is now reading it for the second time and offers this mini review...

"It's really good. It has it all... there are three really interesting main characters...a brave warrior, a princess wannabee and a nervous cook. They go on an adventure to slay a giant, but there's a twist. It's a really funny and exciting book. There is also a pug named Valiant who makes the cutest expressions. I highly recommend it."  

So there you have it...
Adventure, interesting characters and a cute pug = a seriously great book as reviewed by my resident 5th grader.

Monday, April 16, 2012


 Our Rosie turns four today!
In honor of her day here are a few photos that her big brother Jamie took of her embracing her last day of being three. 
She spent a fair part of the day rolling in the grass and giggling.
 Rosie loves to belt out the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's much loved (and kind of raunchy), rock ballad Rosalita.
I know that these aren't the exact words to the song but this is how Rosie sings them... often and loudly. Because I'm her mom, I think I prefer her version to those of the Boss.

Rosalita jump a little higher
Senorita come dance by the fire
I want to be your girl-I'm not lying.
Rosalita your my desire!

Shine on little Rose.
Have a very, very, happy birthday and keep on jumping just a little bit higher!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hello, Lego!

Hello Legoland!
After spending some time in the Big Magical Parks in Orlando we found Legoland to be an easy breezy respite well suited for our gang.
The park is brand just opened a few months ago in a former botanical garden. So now it's a beautifully landscaped home for lovely flora and billions of little plastic bricks from Germany.
We loved it...
There were whole mini cities built from Lego... it was all very cool and my Lego obsessed kids were most impressed. 
Here is a bust of our friend Einstein, enormous and built entirely our of Lego.
I directed my kids to look smart... the boys instead chose to pick Mr Einstein's giant Lego nose.
 The rides are designed for the 2-12 year old set, which worked well for us as four of our kids fit in that age range. I was really happy that Jamie was a responsible boat driver and did not throw his little sister into the drink. She was too.
Rosie turned into a tiny thrill seeker as long as her big brothers rode with her. 
Don't worry... no boys were actually harmed in the making of this photo. 
Jamie thought this would be an awesome pose and he was right. It's not often you get a chance to pose as though you are being eaten alive by a giant great white Lego shark!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guatemalan Easter Egg Hunt

What history does this gang of great kids share?
There were all born in Guatemala and spent their earliest beginnings there. 
( a few home grown sibs are in the photo too)
Last Saturday, Friends Through Guatemalan Adoption hosted the very best Easter egg hunt and gathering at a local park. 
FTGA is a truly cool group based in Southwest Ohio made up of families who have been touched by Guatemalan adoption. Our family is extremely fortunate to live in an area that has such a great group so that our Guatemalan born boys can connect and spend time with other kids who were also adopted from Guatemala.  
I can't recall the number of plastic eggs that the dedicated moms were required to stuff with stuff... but I think it was in the ball park of 800. Some were filled with candy, many others were Guatemalan themed with goodies brought back from some of the moms recent visits. Here Jamie shows off a tiny square of white jade that was in one of his eggs. 
He now carries that jade as his "lucky Guatemalan stone."
Henry was thrilled with his Guatemalan friendship bracelets. 
Jamie also scored a few bracelets and a little beaded ring- he celebrated Easter with some fresh bling.
Ryan found perhaps the most Easter eggs of any of the hunters. He is shy of crowds (like a herd of excited eggs hunters) and wisely started hunting for his own eggs away from the rest of the pack. It turned out to be a most effective strategy. 
Well played Major B.     
Rosie was happy to get in on the action too!
After the egg hunt one of the moms spoke of the importance of the Easter holiday in Guatemala. 
She also explained how alfombras de aserrian are created. The kids learned that the alfombras are remarkably intricate,  beautiful carpets made of dyed sawdust on Guatemalan streets during holy week. 
 (thanks Kristin!) 
The kids were able to make their own sidewalk alfombras with dyed sawdust and fresh flowers. 
The very same moms who stuffed 800 eggs with cool stuff also had the energy to dye big tupperware containers of sawdust with Rit dye for the kids.
Did I mention how lucky my boys are to be in the company of such fabulous moms?
Thanks Sonya, Aimee and all of the moms who worked to make this event so special, all of your hard work and dedication is very much appreciated.
Here is a photo of a Guatemalan street getting ready for holy week with their own alfombra de aserrin.
 I can't believe that it's created from sawdust...amazing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thoroughly Modern Mary

Our Mary played the part of the Chinese brother Bun Fu in her school production of Thoroughly Modern Millie this weekend. Bun Fu spoke no English, so Mary was required to deliver every line in Cantonese. It was both odd and cool to watch my dear daughter speak convincing Chinese on stage, Karl and I were impressed and he asked her if the experience made her want to study more Chinese.

"Are you kidding me? Those were the hardest lines I ever had to learn and a lot of people didn't believe that I really learned them... they thought I made up just random words that sounded Chinese." 
Mary was involved in some intense stage moments...
and heated Chinese monologue.
I'm not sure if you can have a musical without a few high kicks, and Millie was no exception. 
It was a very entertaining show...Mary had a wonderful time being a part of it and as usual, was a little sad after the final performance. She will definitely miss the song and dance portion in her everyday life as a high school junior without a stage show to prepare for.